NASBR 2019 (North American Symposium on Bat Research) meeting in Kalamazoo MI was wonderful. Amy and Maarten did a terrific job organizing the meeting so we could just focus on bat science. NASBR is a warm and inclusive group, small enough that most of us know one another, and invested in building and maintaining a sense of community. In the photo above you can see a standing-room-only crowd, not for a talk but for one of the business meetings! We make student support a priority, devoting the whole first day to their presentations. And this year the popular keynote talk by Carol Chambers focused on what we can do to foster diversity and inclusion within our research community.
This was my 13th NASBR meeting in 15 years! Even though I’ve been hanging out more lately with insect and radar folks, the bat community will always be my family. It’s so great to reconnect with old friends, many of whom I only see at this meeting. Even most collaborators I rarely see in person, and it makes a big difference to have time to hang out. Kalamazoo is full of fun brewpubs and fun restaurants, and they saw a lot of batty customers that week.
I felt that the talks this year were even better than they usually are. As usual, I tried to live-tweet as many of the talks as possible. I love the challenge of distilling what I hear down to as brief a summary as possible! Unfortunately for me, that means I’m not taking notes to refer to later. This year I think I’ll print out my tweets and put them into my meeting notebook. I pulled together a collection of some of them here. Here are some highlights that stood out for me over the course of the meeting:
- There were 8 bat migration-related talks and one poster! I think this might be a record. Unfortunately, two were concurrent talks so I didn’t catch them all.
- The most exciting session for me was Aaron Corcoran‘s presentation on his new DIY 3D video toolkit. I can’t wait to get started playing with it.
- Fred Frick gave a good/scary talk about the state of bat conservation (read the paper free here). Since we know so little about bats, she estimates that 80% (1001) of species need attention: either already known to be in trouble, or we have no idea how they’re doing. Want to help? Check out this site.
- Wind energy update: “smart curtailment“, or stopping turbines when bats are at risk, results in only about 1% of power loss to energy companies, and saves from 23% of bats up to possibly 91%. This is promising news.
- Theresa Laverty’s talk about her adventures studying bats in Namibia was great fun, and I was glad to get a chance to get to know her a little.
- My talk was part of a 3-talk mini symposium on high-altitude bats. I presented a preliminary analysis of our radar data from Texas, where the night sky is full of bats. Teague O’Mara told us about high-flying free-tailed bats in Portugal, and Gary McCracken took the perspective of high-altitude insect prey in a preview of our chapter in the upcoming NASBR 50th anniversary book. The night sky, especially at high altitudes, really is one of the last unexplored places.
Next October is the 50th anniversary NASBR meeting in Tempe, AZ. It’s going to be amazing and I hope to see you there!